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love your enemies?

The US Ambassador to the United Nations told the UN Security Council, “You don’t starve your own people in order to fund nuclear weapons.” But that’s precisely what North Korea has done.
The international response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear-armed, long-range missiles has been to squeeze commerce and cut foreign aid. A better option than war. While commerce has plummeted, United Nations aid to North Korea has shrunk from nearly $400million in 2001 to just $39million.

During those same years, aid to North Korea from US based Christian organizations has held steady at about $10million per year. Christian humanitarians, eligible for exemptions from US government restrictions, are among the last non-Chinese outsiders engaged in face-to-face work with North Koreans. Christian aid workers from World Vision and other like-minded organizations are motivated by biblical admonitions to “love your enemies.” Charity fosters peace.

Others have given up on North Korea. “The money all goes straight into the pockets of the regime,” said Nancy Purcell, a Philadelphia-area native who first traveled to North Korea with a Christian nonprofit in 2000. She helped distribute food there until concluding in 2004 that the North Korean military siphoned off donations. France-based
Action Against Hunger pulled out in 2000 after finding emaciated children left to die by the regime. Doctors Without Borders left in 1998 after concluding the regime kept food from the neediest.

Food and medicine are desperately needed. 40% of North Koreans are undernourished. Tuberculosis and hepatitis are rampant.
UNICEF reported in January that a slowdown in aid could lead to starvation for some 60,000 children.

North Korea accepts Christian aid. That began after Billy Graham’s 1992 official visit. In 2016 North Korea state media claimed that Mr Graham had affirmed Kim Il Sung—that nation’s founder—as akin to God, “So perfect in his ideas that North Korea didn’t need the Bible.” The Billy Graham organization denied anything like this was said.

But the regime views Christianity as a threat. Christians are imprisoned for praying or owning a Bible. Preaching is forbidden.

Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea was founded in 2010 by James Kim, a Korea-born US citizen, with $40 million raised from evangelical churches and businesses. Mr. Kim says the campus builds relationships with elite North Koreans who are otherwise taught to hate the USA. Critics fear the technical and English language training may help forge the next generation of missile scientists and computer hackers. Last year, two American educators affiliated with the university were arrested. They remain in detention.

If North Korea can build nuclear bombs and intercontinental missiles bomb, why can’t it feed its own people?

This question must be answered. The people of North Korea are not our enemies. They are victims—real victims. They deserve food and medicine. If their own government cannot or will not provide it, Christians must help. Yet, Christian charity frees up state resources for nukes and missiles.

The 2005 book
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty quotes a North Korean, Ahn Hyuk, who escaped his country. The defector said, “I want to write a letter to Billy Graham. If you want to know religion in North Korea, go to a prison camp.” ~

Dan Nygaard